Archive for the ‘Tuesday: Business’ Category
You know me, I’m always looking for the best way to spend our kids belts marketing/advertising budget (not that there is much of one, that’s how we keep our costs lower so we can still make Dapper Snappers in the USA), and yesterday I got an email. It looked like your average spammy type email, which I usually just delete, but then the subject line caught my eye, “ABC Kids vs PLUSH – The Truth“. Hmm… We have never been to Plush, but I have always wondered (and you know how I feel about the ABC Expo, as I discussed here and here). So, I opened the email and read.
ABC Kids vs PLUSH
My Take and What I See As The Future
Ok – I admit it “the truth” as stated in the subject line is only seen through my observations; however the amount of phone calls, emails and talks I have received and or participated in within the last few months prompts me to pen a letter that I hope shares my opinion on how I see the industry as a whole
So that everyone is up to speed, and forgive me to those that have been following my emails in the past, I proudly state that I am a veteran in this industry. 47 years to be exact. Proud owner of what we in the east call a mom and pop store. I grew up in the industry helped build the industry and look forward to a few more years in the industry. I stay anonymous through these email chains because I speak the truth and know the players on all sides. My friends this is a small industry – let’s not kid ourselves to that fact.
The Question at Hand
Like I stated in my prior paragraph I have received inquiry after inquiry on what I see as THE SHOW to attend for the manufacturer and for the buyer, so let’s focus on the two shows that seem to be at each other’s neck and simplify the question thus bringing about a an easier, if any, solution.
ABC Kids - Good show, simple and bland but really all I need when it comes to finding my manufacturers, there does in lie the problem. 4-5 days of sifting through mountains of booths to only see 200-300 of my actual clients is a real downer. Like I stated above, I know the players of ABC and understand there determined goal to make themselves the largest show the industry has
seen…(que echo..seen..seen…seen) but let’s be frank, the million of $$$ that the show brings in does very little to help my store or the manufacturers that purchase the booth space. Due to little loyalty within the ranks of ABC and previous committees and boards the facts always make their way to my doorstep.The industry seems to have come to grips with the fact that inflated salaries, lush “non show” excursions and an ultimately bland show is the new norm for the industry. Now don’t pick up the phone and call ABC right away to complain about me… there is a flip side to this coin. This IS the show you have to go to place your product in front of buyers. Heed what I say when I tell anyone that is planning on attending ABC Kids that they made smart decision and I look forward to seeing them there. Oh and ABC – one more thing. KY C’mon???
PLUSH - this seems to be the biggest point of contention for most people that I talk to so I spent last week on the west coast visiting the show learning all I could and seeing some of my manufacturers. I’ll give you the good with the bad and then hopefully have a solution to the ongoing question later in this email.
THE GOOD – the bland went away. As a buyer this show was more appealing to my senses than any other show I have ever been at. From the moment you walked in the doors to the networking events, you felt as if you were the most important person there. I like that every once in a while. The manufacturers were great to talk with and the mood of the show made me proud to be in the industry.
THE BAD – It was very expensive to attend the show and beyond the networking events, a hamburger cost me $30.00. I did have the luxury of staying the 3 days for the show so the cost is partly my fault however seeing the consumer aspect of the show was interesting, CROWDED and worth the extra night stay and $40.00 breakfast. I have to throw the speakers for what I assume was the educational side under the bus for a second. I would rate them as a 30 on a scale of 0- 100 mostly because of “self proclaimed industry expert” Jamie Grayson. I was able to attend both of his seminars and was bored with both. Now don’t crucify me yet. I know he has a following of about 60 women in the industry that hate their husbands and are looking for a sensitive man in their life, but seriously this young man is a perfect example of how the industry needs NOT TO BE. (This may be the bulk of my next email blast) As a side note to my side note, I also attended the panel at ABC Spring which was very similar to the panel at PLUSH and was happy with what I came away with. So maybe Jamie you send me an email email@example.com and we can discuss why you flamed out at PLUSH.The decor atmosphere and management was charming and down-home for a west coast show and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this young show.
SO MY PROGNOSIS DOCTOR
If you skipped the above just to see what I think, well, you didn’t miss much, but I must ask you to be very serious in reading what I see as the solution. There DOES need to be a change in the industry. ABC shaking hands with foreign entities sends red flags all over my mind and PLUSH being high end yet high dollar also strikes fear to my inner wallet. So Larry Schur, Jina Parks (Show managers of both ABC and PLUSH) – if you are reading this head my below advice and please know that I speak for a great many.
Larry (ABC Kids) – The show is too big – you forgot what the industry is all about and instead filled the bank accounts. Please remember that we are who you fought many years for and I hope you continue to fight for. Please please please reconsider your relationships with other countries. You know this will end bad for many.
Jina Parks (PLUSH) you have the future of show/events in the industry. If ABC had an ounce of courage they would pull your show into their fold and together make the industry unshakable. Bring your pricing for all attendees to an acceptable place and you have my business going forward and many of those that read this blog/email.
To The Reader (that’s you) watch these shows very carefully – one is for you and one could very well be against you. If I had to make my choice now…it would be for PLUSH. They are what the industry needs to be healthy and they radiate that in their show, management and there perseverance.
Talk with everyone soon,
The Juvenile World Old Guy
I enjoyed reading his perspective. There isn’t enough information about worthwhile trade shows and we end up spending thousands of dollars to attend shows in which we make few contacts (simply because of lack of attendance), like ENK this spring. And I couldn’t agree more with him about ABC at KY. As I stated earlier, we went the first time it was in KY and it was just awful. We heard that last years was better, though we refused to attend. However, from what I gathered, even though the entertainment was better, orders were still down because the buyers didn’t want to go to KY and really, that’s what we are there for orders and connections, not entertainment.
All of this being said, I don’t know who this guy is but I appreciated hearing a buyers point of view. Like I said, normally I skip over emails like this, but since we haven’t attended Plush and I was told it would be a good show to attend, I felt “called” to read it. We will be at the ABC Kids Expo in Vegas this year, but next year we may look into Plush!
I hope it helps you with your trade show decisions!
Here at the kids belts factory, we have a love/hate relationship with Amazon. We have some amazing retailers who sell on Amazon and we love them to death, but there are always one or two who spoil the pot.
We are very protective of our brand and our image. “Why?” you ask? Well, partly because this business and this piece of elastic with snaps is my baby. I feel like I literally birthed it with the amount of blood, sweat and tears that has gone into it! And, partly because that’s just good business. Imagine what Disney or Coca Cola would be today if they didn’t protect their brand and the value of their product. I know we are a young company and nowhere near as big as those companies (one day… you just wait), but if we don’t protect it now, it will only get harder. That’s where Amazon is making it difficult, and not just for us.
Like I said, we love the great majority of our Amazon retailers, but lately there has been one specifically (and I won’t mention names) that has blatantly been violating our pricing policies. We have been in contact with them through Amazon and they refuse to comply. I know that’s not Amazon’s fault, but here is where they come in… Amazon sellers are completely anonymous. Amazon won’t even talk about their 3rd party sellers. That makes it difficult for wholesalers and distributors like us to track down who is actually selling our product. We aren’t the only one. Once we started having this problem, we googled the issue (cause that’s what you do when you have a problem, right, google it?) and there are huge companies having the same problem. So much so, that they even dedicate a whole page on their website listing the companies who are not authorized sellers and warning that their warranties are voided if their product was purchased from any of those retailers.
The problem is, when you sell a product for under the minimum advertised price, you cheapen the brand and make it harder for smaller stores to sell the product because they have to make a certain amount on the sale to justify keeping in inventory. Keep that in mind when you purchase any product. The cheapest price might seem like a deal, but it might also be forcing someone else to close their doors or not carry a product because they can not compete.
We have plans and ideas, big plans and ideas. We have goals, big goals! What hinders our ideas, plans and goals?? Money, of course! So, this year we have decided to take a run at the Huggies Mom Inspired Grant Program with our kids belts. Have you heard of it? Here’s how their site explains it.
“The Huggies® MomInspired™ Grant Program is awarding up to $15,000 to further the development of innovative products inspired by the joys of motherhood. At Huggies® we recognize that there is a dynamic and talented community of moms who strive to make life as a parent easier and more enjoyable every day. It’s what we strive for too. That’s why we want to inspire moms from all walks of life to channel some of their best moments of ingenuity into products that help improve the lives of all moms.”
This is an amazing program for Huggies to offer. This is great advertising for smaller companies like ours. Plus, we would love to align ourselves with a big name like “Huggies”. I mean, really, doesn’t it just make sense? Dapper Snappers are perfect “fit” for toddlers with diapers. (ha ha, you like that?)
On top of that, the money would be nice. I know that we would only get a portion of the $15,000 that they are giving away, but we could put it to such good use. We could go to more trade shows to help up get in front of some of the bigger box stores. We could use it to help us revamp our packaging. So many idea, I have!
So, wish us luck, and pray that I get over my writers block so I can finish filling out the application. Why is it so hard to sing your own praises?? “What is something that you like to do? What is unique to you?” Uhhh…. I’m pretty good at killing house plants… Somehow I don’t think that’s what they are looking for, though.
I love Bloggers who do reviews. I am a firm believer in the power that comes from their voices. We have done several blog review campaigns for our Dapper Snappers kids belts and I would say that I have loved about 96% of them. Some have fallen short which prompted me to write a blog about how to write a successful blog review. Generally, we only do a blog review as a campaign, and not individual random blogs. However, if a blogger takes the time to research our product and contacts us and if the blog has good traffic, then it makes sense for us.
So, as a manufacturer of a product, I thought I would put together a list of do’s and don’ts for Bloggers who are contacting companies for a review:
- DON’T use a canned email. Be personal and at the very least, mention the name of the product. For sure don’t include a line that says, “I would love to promote your company and/or product”. Really? Please be specific.
- DO include your website with a link somewhere in your email. I know that one sounds like a no brainer, but we have had some who haven’t.
- DO proofread your email. Ok, I know I am no literary scholar (is that an actual thing?) and I have typos in my blogs, but when you are pitching a company, just take the extra two minutes to make sure your email reads well and makes sense. Here is an example of a sentence that needs some work, “I am growing my blog as much as possible with followers, so with that being said I would love to review one of your products of choice or something that you had in mind vise versa.”
- DO a mini review when pitching the company. Explain why you feel the product is a good fit for your blog. “I have a tall skinny 3 year old who needs a belt, but I’m afraid that it will get in the way of potty training, so I would love to see if Dapper Snappers is the answer I’m looking for to solve this problem.” Show the company that you know about their product.
- DON’T underestimate the power of your stats. Prior to choosing a blogger, we look at site stats, Alexa rating, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, etc. Companies are in this for the exposure and they are most likely going to choose bloggers with great numbers. I know that’s not fair to newer, smaller bloggers, but we also have to get the most bang for our buck (sending samples out does actually cost us).
Good luck when pitching that company for reviews, I hope this helps!
There are no words that can express the sadness and compassion I feel for the victims of the bombings yesterday. At times like this, it’s so easy to focus on the bad and the negative. However, at times like these, more than any other, we need to be focusing on the good. I love the quote above from Fred Rogers. We need to see the good that will come out of yesterday. The first responders who rushed in, without regard for their own safety, to care for the injured. The good Samaritans who volunteered to help. Let’s focus on the heroes, not the criminals.
Today is International Autism Awareness Day. Here at the kids belts office we decided that we want to be a part of raising awareness for this cause. We want to announce that we will be releasing an Autism Awareness patterned Dapper Snapper later this week. This will be a fundraiser belt that will be added to our current fundraising line. We currently give back to breast cancer research and veterans groups and we are trying to continually add to that list.
We have chosen Easter Seals as our charity, $5 from every Autism Awareness belt purchase will be donated to them. We feel that we need to support and give back to the community that supports us. We are so thankful that we are in the position to give back. I have been wanting to release this pattern for a while now and we have finally gotten everything finalized to launch.
Have you ever wondered what Autism is? “Autism is a complex neurobehavioral disorder characterized by impairment in reciprocal social interaction, impairment in communication, and the presence of repetitive and stereotypic patterns of behaviors, interests, and activities. The onset of symptoms is typically before the age of 3 years. The severity of impairment in the given domains as well as the pattern of impairments varies from individual to individual; that is why diagnosticians refer to a “ spectrum ” of disability.” (courtesy of Association for Science in Autism Treatment)
Did you know … (courtesy of Autism Speaks)
- Autism now affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys
- Autism prevalence figures are growing
- Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
- Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average
- Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases
- Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism
- There is no medical detection or cure for autism
National Institutes of Health Funds Allocation
- Total 2012 NIH budget: $30.86 billion
- Of this, only $169 million goes directly to autism research. This represents 0.55% of total NIH funding.
So keep an eye out later this week for the release! Let us know what other fundraiser Dapper Snappers you would like to see!
There have been a few times where, in order to keep our brand name fresh in the minds of our consumers, we have sold Dapper Snappers kids belts to a deal of the day site. Baby Steals has been wonderful to work with and they do a great job. But now is the time to move on to bigger things.
While we feel that the “deal” sites have been great for building brand awareness, we do also want to keep our brand name at a premium and don’t want to cheapen it any by doing a deal every other week. We want to keep our retailers strong and the deal sites have been wonderful advertising for us and all our retailers. We have had so many new stores call us asking about carrying Dapper Snappers because a customer came in asking for it after seeing it on one of those deal sites.
Deal sites have definitely helped us get to where we are, however now it’s time to set our focus on other forms of advertising. Two weeks ago, we just sent a team to New York, NY to really introduce Dapper Snappers to the northeast at ENK Children’s Club. We were welcomed with open arms are are very excited to be adding retailers to the northeast! You just wait, we will take them by storm!
So, even though we won’t be doing anymore “deal of the day” sites for Dapper Snappers Toddler Belts, rest assured that you can still get great deals on our wonderful belts! There are most likely stores in your area that carry them (and if they don’t, you should be asking them to!) as well as online retailers where you can shop with your coffee in hand and without even changing out of your pj’s! What could be easier than that?? Well, ok, just sitting around in your pj’s drinking coffee would be easier than that, but then your kid’s pants would still be falling down, and then they will get tickets for indecent exposure, and then they will have a RAP sheet that will need to be expunged when they become an adult which will cost money with attorney and court fees and they will start out adulthood in debt and you don’t want that… (Ok, I may be watching way too much Law & Order lately, and I know that I totally overused the word and in that incredibly long run-on sentence.)
Dapper Snappers Fans
Campaign & Contest
“Taking a stand against Droopy Drawers in 2012″
Toddler Tech USA is holding a month-long contest in August for all Dapper Snappers kids belts Fans! Enter for your chance to win a $50 Dapper Snappers Gift Certificate!! There will be one drawing a week through the month of August and fans can enter as many times as they like!
How to enter:
1. Download and print out a copy of one of the Dapper Snappers “No Mooning” Posters.
2. Take the Poster to one of your local children’s boutiques* or consignment stores* (big box stores, ie Babies R Us, Target, Walmart, etc., not included) and take a picture of the poster in the store or near the sign. (*Any children’s store, even if they don’t carry Dapper Snappers.)
3. Post the picture on our Facebook page with the name of the store. (You can enter as many times as you would like, however, you can only use each store & photo as an entry one time.)
4. One winner will be chosen at random weekly and will be contacted through their Facebook page.
More ways to win Prizes!
Word of Mom is the Best Advertising!
We need your help!!!
If the children’s store near you doesn’t carry Dapper Snappers, print out THIS PAGE and give it to the store. Be sure to write YOUR name and EMAIL address in the “Reffered By” section.
If they place an order, we will send you a $25.00 gift certificate to our online store, www.dappersnappers.com!
You’ve heard the saying, “Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the postmen from their appointed rounds”, while I am sure that this must have been true at some point, I don’t think it is any more.
As a business owner, I try to always go above and beyond when it comes to customer service because without our customers, there would be no Dapper Snappers kids belts. What get’s me is how a company as big as the Post Office can get away with such lack luster service which seems to get worse as time goes on. The thing that stinks is that there is nothing we can do about it either.
Over the last few months, we have had several packages “lost” in transit. Granted these are small packages and not valuable individually, but when more and more turn up missing, the cost to replace those pieces becomes very clear on our end.
I don’t feel like we are asking much. We want to get a package from A to B and the Post Office is in the business of getting packages from A to B. It seems to me like we should be a match made in heaven. You’d think so anyway. But, alas, it’s not. We mailed one package to New England area and, after about a week or so, our customer called to tell us she never received it. We did the tracking online and it showed that the package was received at her local Post Office. Jen called the Post Office to ask what happened and they said that they would look into it. The package was delivered two days later all banged up. How does that happen? Suddenly they found it because we called about it?
We had another package that was shipped to a customer, but was returned to us because the USPS said that the forwarding time had expired so they could not send it to the address specified. The problem was that the address we mailed it to was the address the person wanted it shipped to. We took the package back to the post office and explained our dilemma. The Postal Worker said that it was no problem, marked through the forwarding sticker, wrote “deliver as addressed” and resent it for us. A few days later it was returned to us again for the same reason… Ugh…
Now if this was UPS or FedEx, we could be on the phone complaining and they would be refunding money and apologizing and making it right, because that’s what businesses do, but for some reason, the USPS isn’t held to that standard. While it seems like a terrible way to run a business to me, we all continue to use them, because for small packages, they are the cheapest game in town. I guess you do get what you pay for…